3 simple questions to help you ask better questions.

 

Is there such a thing as a stupid question? I say Yes, I think there is. I think stupid questions are questions that people who fill time but don’t get to the root of an issue. I think stupid questions are questions that are so generic they can’t help anyone including the person asking them. I think stupid questions are questions you ask because you know the answer or think you do and you are more interested in sharing your answer than learning from the person you are asking.

So you might think I am an anti-question guy, on the contrary. I think question asking is a skill all good leaders own. In my opinion, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you ask someone a question?

1. Am I willing to be vulnerable? – Most awful questions come from here. We want to sound like a good leader, not a good learner. I am a leader but guess what I am a learner. I don’t know lots of stuff. If you want to ask a good question be vulnerable enough to ask something that isn’t so generic it doesn’t help anyone.

2. Can I find the answer to my question on google? Don’t ask questions you can google on your iPhone. Ask something that demands the person you are asking to think before they answer. To ask clarifying questions to help understand what you are trying to say.

3. How am I going to apply the answer I receive from the question I am asking? Am I asking this question to gain more information or am I looking for ways apply it and have it help me grow. Questions asked from a framework of application rather than from knowledge acquisition will always lead to growth.

One of the things I love most is how Jesus was able to cut to the core of an issue. He saw past the question to the heart of the matter. He also answered lots of questions with even better questions. In order to ask better questions of others, I think we need to start by asking ourselves better questions first.

Hide and Go Seek and Letting Go.

I may not be a doctor of anything but I have a theory. I have been reluctant to throw this out there but now after we have had our third kid I am fairly certain that it’s a fact. The amount of time you spend playing peek-a-boo translates into your child’s ability to be ok with you dropping them off in the care of others. Because even though they can’t see you they know that you always come back. We tell our kids we will come back but young kids deal in concrete, not abstract thought so if you can show them that you will be back by hiding your face then popping out again you demonstrate that even when you can’t see me I am nearby and you will see me soon. They can trust you.

I am not sure if this helps the parents with the letting go part when their kids get older but it may. I do however know many two-year-old teachers that would benefit from this theory of mine.

As a parent dropping my oldest off at kindergarten I think I am starting the processes of peek-a-boo where I can let my boy go and know that he will come back. It’s not easy but few things are easy when it comes to parenting. Our job is to equip, train, release. I have to prepare my kids to be everything God created them to be and not selfishly hold them back because they fill a gap in my life.

This reminds me of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ definition of faith in her Jesus Storybook Bible

Faith is knowing that God loves you and because He loves you, you can trust Him.

7 answers you need to hear from award winning author Sally Lloyd-Jones

This is a repost of an interview I did with best-selling author Sally Lloyd-Jones. She is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of her best-selling Bible for kids ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’ She has released a beautiful new anniversary edition to celebrate you can find out more about it here.

Sally Lloyd-Jones has written an amazing new book called “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing” it is an amazing follow-up to her best-selling book “Jesus Storybook Bible” We have had Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing for a week and it has already lead to conversations about faith and the supreme value of Christ. Every time I read one of Sally’s books to my kids I’m not sure who gets more from what she has written me or them.  She was gracious enough to allow me to ask her a few questions about her new book that was released October 9th.

How do you see Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing and Jesus Storybook Bible dovetailing together?

The JSB (Jesus Storybook Bible) tells the great story of the Bible–the magnificent story under all the other stories of the Bible–The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. And at the center of that story is the Rescuer.

TTMYHS (Thoughts That Make Your Heart Sing) I think (at least my hope and prayer is) takes the child by the hand and gently introduces them to what Corrie ten Boom called, ” the Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him” (The Rescuer). Faith. What it looks like in everyday life.

What made you want to write this new book?

My niece was the inspiration. She was 8 at the time. And almost overnight, she went from being a vivacious little girl full of life to a quite hidden child. Even her voice changed–into a very quiet voice you could hardly hear.

And we found out she was being bullied at school. I wished she had a book that she would want to have by her bedside, a book she would look forward to reading, a book no one would have to make her read–but that she would choose to read–a book that would tell her what God says about her instead of what these bullies were saying.

And so I wrote the book for her–and every child like her.

How can parents best leverage this book?

I’d love parents to be free to just let the book be the child’s book–without attaching any should’s or ought’s to it. Perhaps the child will want to share it with the family. Let them lead in that. That’s what I’d love to see.

Having said that, I think it’s great to read it together as a family and wonder aloud together about the questions it raises. I wrote the book deliberately to inspire wonder and open up the child to questions–I didn’t write it to try and give all the answers. (I would encourage parents to let the wondering happen–and not feel they have to come in immediately with answers. The best thing a book can do, I think, is engage the child and get them thinking… And you know the definition of a boring book? One that does the work of the reader for them!

What is the target age range of this book?

Initially the publisher had an age cap. But I asked for them to remove it and instead say “6 and up”–because I had a hunch that grownups would like it too… and sure enough that’s what we’re hearing which makes me very happy… so it’s 6 to 106! : )

Very few books provoke me to tears but both Thoughts That Make Your Heart Sing and Jesus Storybook Bible do that for me as an adult. I still to this day cannot read washed with tears without choking up. Is that something you did on purpose or did it happen on the way? Were you targeting kids and got adults by accident or did you intentionally target both?

That’s a high compliment. And while I don’t do it deliberately, I’m coming to realize that unless I write from the place that moves me, it won’t move the reader. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader” didn’t Frost say that? And what did C S Lewis say? That a children’s book that can only be read by children isn’t a good children’s book in the least.

As a writer how do you overcome resistance? How do you get new ideas?

I think it has a lot to do with trust. And getting out of your own way. If you think it’s all about you and you coming up with everything that’s a very different place to work from than if you think it’s not all about you–and you discover the book rather than create it…and you’re offering back to the One who gave you everything to begin with. It’s worship rather than performance.

When I read your books and listen to Dr. Keller speak the thing I take away is that both of you are excellent “Distillers” is what I call it, of the gospel. So often especially for kids, the gospel is “simplified” and in the simplification, the power and the beauty of the gospel is lost. How do you do this so well? What advice can you give to kids pastors and student pastors to do this better?

It’s very easy to make this mistake. And we’ve all done it. After all the Bible is a “grown up” book and by its very nature, if we are to reach children, we’re going to have to simplify it. But in our effort to simplify the Bible for children, we often drill it down into a moral lesson. We have to be alert and vigilant against this. The Bible isn’t a moral lesson–it’s above all a story.

The other thing we need to constantly remind ourselves of is this: being child-like isn’t being childish. Being simple isn’t being simple-minded. Being simple is distilling down to the core truth and expressing it in words that the young can understand. What children need from us are not silly voices. What they need from us is to take them seriously. And we show how seriously we take our audience by how much time we prepare.

It takes longer to be shorter. Blaize Pascal apologized for writing a long letter–and said that he didn’t have time to make it shorter. It takes hard work and thought to reach children. And for children, the standard needs to be higher because the responsibility is greater.

Thanks again to Sally for time thoughtfulness and for the amazing Gospel-centered tools to help our kids find Jesus more valuable than anything else on earth.  Head over to amazon right now and your copy of Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing you will thank me later.

 

Advice to young leaders.

 

One of the reasons I started blogging years ago was to try to be to someone else what I wish someone was to me. There are so many things that I had to learn the hard way. When I started leading in kidmin there weren’t blogs, twitter, or even that many conferences. I learned many things the hard way but not everything because I was fortunate to be hired by one of the best leaders I know. He doesn’t have a blog but he has a legacy that is far-reaching I have learned much from his leadership. I also have also been blessed to work alongside some of the best leaders I have ever met. I love the team I am a part of and much of what I know and who I am is because of their voices and their influence on me.

That being said I want to start a series of posts that address some of the things that apply to all leaders but especially young leaders. The rise of the internet and social media has been an amazing thing but it has its downside as well. I want to do a few posts where I break down some of the traps that young leaders fall into that derail them from being what God wants for them to be and from doing what He wants them to do.

Before I dive into these topics I would like to offer this disclaimer. I am not perfect and have MUCH to learn as a leader. I do however feel that if I can help others avoid the mistakes I and others have made it’s worth my time because it builds the kingdom. So for the next few days, I want to cover the following topics.

1. Listen: The most important skill you can develop is the ability to listen.
2. Experience: Lack of experience is actually a good thing.
3. Ego: The Church does not need brilliant personalities
4. Influence: The worst thing that could happen to you is gaining a platform
5. Gospel: What you believe about Jesus and His Church will decide who you become

4 powerful things criticism tells you about you.

Everyone is a critic. Don’t believe me? Go on-line to Facebook or twitter during an awards show. Don’t believe me? Ask someone how they feel about a local restaurant, if they like your new haircut, and where you should go on vacation.

We all love to share our opinion. We love it when people ask what we think. Where we tend to have a hard time is when people share their opinion with us. Especially when that opinion is different than ours or when it is aimed at us specifically.

Everyone is a critic but no one likes to be criticized.

One of the best things we can do when others criticize you is to take a look at yourself and ask what does this criticism tell me about me?Here are some of the things that I have found in my life criticism tells me about me.

1. It shows me the things in my life that I hold onto more tightly than I do Christ. – The things that matter to me more than anything else hurt far more when they are poked at by others.
2. It reminds me that I need to care what others think about me but not how often they think about me. We need to care about others but not to the point that our identity and security is informed by what they think about me.
3. It helps me find a joy that is real. It frees me from the need to be loved by others. Jesus said in Luke:

Luke 6:26 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

4. Criticism allows me to a small extent identify with Christ. He was rejected by God and man for us. He was separated from his father so we never have to be. The problem with most of us is we exchange beauty and honor of partaking even in a small portion of the suffering Christ experienced on our behalf because we value comfort and the opinions of man.

1 Peter 4:12-14

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.